Monday, January 01, 2007

The Rainbow Bridge Peace Project

An International Peace Project
for the
Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul

How it could be...

Above, how it is today.

Rainbow Bridge Images
Rainbow Bridge Presentation
7 Synergy
The Rainbow
Quotes of Support
The Bosphorus Bridge

NPP conceived the concept of Rainbow Bridge (RB) c. 1997-99. There are 7 concrete panels spanning the underside of the Bosphorus Bridge periodically painted with anti-corrosive grey paint.
NPP propose instead of grey anti-corrosive paint, the Turks applying the paint could use anti-corrosive paint mixed with 7 rainbow colour pigments. This will create an image the international media will find interesting and the benefits associated with the synergy of 7 can generate a positive and fun marketing story.

Read The story so far

The Bosphorus sea strait is unique in that it is where the East and West continents meet; where Europe meets Asia; the Christian world world meets the Muslim world. Turkish media coverage and support for the project was secured from important Turkish media personalities such as Cahit Akyol, Leyla Umar and Gila Benmayor. When I appeared on the popular Turkish TV show Zaga in 2003, there were 100,000 hits to that weekend. However, internet-hackers deleted Ataturk portrait images, posted Islamic scripture and destroyed the site within weeks. After several attempts to re-establish a website, one Ali Yildrim contacted NPP, suggested I start a blog and this is it.

Ned with Okan Bayulgen on the Zaga TV show December 2003

NPP secured the support of possibly the biggest chemical company in the world, Germany's BASF for nearly 2 years. Ned Pamphilon met AKP government ministers, secretaries and under-secretaries during a meeting in Ankara. The project was well received and we were told to consider it a "done deal".

Later Egemen Bagis, Istanbul Parliamentary Deputy, adviser and translator to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, informed BASF that the PM saw positive aspects to the project, but held 3 main concerns:
- The "San Francisco" issue (BASF tried to convince the government authorities that this is not of relevance especially if the project is marketed in the right way)
- Terrorism (may always remain an open issue)
- No local paint producer involved (this was corrected, because then sponsor BASF have a local partner for the paint and would deliver the pigments only. Local Turkish paint companies had previously been approached directly, but only BASF responded in the affirmative)

Egemen Bagis was next due to talk to Mr. Zeki Ergezen, the then Minister of Public Works Settlements, to inform him of the PM's opinion, give it a further push and to give additional direction to the 17th Regional Highway Patrol District. Something happened inbetween as later BASF were informed this project would never happen under this AKP government.

The only official paper communication NPP have is a letter of rejection from The 17th Regional Highway Authority manager, Mr. Yakup Dost.

Below is an English version, kindly translated by Ali Yildirim, of the rejection letter from the 17th Regional Highway Patrol Authority dated 15.09.2004. It reads:

Your applications have been reviewed by our Regional Office.

The type of paint and colour to be used was discussed at length during the construction of the First Bosphorus Bridge*, a German-Turkish joint venture and opened to the public in 1973. At these discussions attended by local and foreign experts, factors such as the dominant colours of the Bosphorus, its appearance, the effect of the bridge's construction on the make-up of the Bosphorus were looked at from all possible perspectives, and it was decided to favour a visual impact that would have the least dramatic effect in accordance with the selected aerodynamics of the bridge, and that the chosen colour of the applied paint should not increase that impact. An agreement was reached that the grey hue chosen in accordance with the above decision was the least influential to the skyline (sky drop) and the make-up of the Bosphorus and would ensure the bridge did not stand out. The same criteria were followed in the selection of paint colours for the Second Bosphorus Bridge**.

As you suggest in the aforementioned applications, if the rainbow colours were to be applied beneath the bridge, it is clear that this would make the construction more solid and visible. Furthermore, not only is the view that rainbow colours are ideal for the bridge completely subjective, it contradicts with the necessity to paint the whole bridge in one colour. The most important factor to take into consideration is that the chosen colour must not make a negative impact on the make-up and appearance of the Bosphorus. Similar applications have also been deemed unsuitable for the reasons given above,

Yakup Dost
Highway Authority Manager

NPP comments:

* The Bogazici Bridge is known as the First Bosphorus Bridge. A contract was signed with the British firm Freeman Fox & Partners in 1968 for the structural engineering work. The designer was the Englishman Gilbert Roberts. The construction was carried out by the Turkish firm Enka Construction & Industry Co., along with the co-contractors Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Co. Ltd. (England) and Hochtief AG (Germany).
It is not clear why Yakup Dost refers only to a German-Turk venture when there was also English collaboration.

** The Second Bosphorus Bridge is called the Faith Sultan Mehmet Bridge.

NPP continue to believe RB will benefit which ever Turkish government happens to be in power at the time. RB will open the imaginations of millions of children. The authorities reportedly spent $40,000,000 on an tourism advertising campaign at the end of 2005. BASF offered to sponsor the RB project and submitted a detailed budgeted protocol costing a maximum of €350,000. RB will reap dividends because every news agency in the world will cover the story; art magazines will feature it; architectural magazines; it may be entered to the Guinness Book of Records as the longest artwork between 2 continents; perhaps even be entered for The Turner Prize.......the opportunities are endless.

If the rainbow colours are so strongly disliked, the bridge can be painted grey again.

Istanbul is to be the EU Cultural Capital in 2010. RB would be a perfect tool for such a venture. RB could aid Turkey's EU aspirations and generate a more constructive image toward the sceptical French, German and Scandinavian public.

RB could also highlight Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who founded secular democratic Turkey of approximately 97% Muslims where an individual is entitled to freedom of belief; though this gets hampered by everyday politics of course. He was an engaging character, though if you are into single religious theocratic states you probably won't agree. This association may be another reason why the conservative and religious leaning AKP government do not wish to implement RB; they do not wish to highlight an artist who has painted Ataturk.

Ataturk said: "Our religion is the most reasonable and natural of all, and that is the reason why it is the most recently established religion. For a religion to be natural it must conform to reason, science, technology and logic. Our religion fully conforms to all of these."

Churchill said: "Ataturk's death is not only a loss for the country, but for Europe is the greatest loss, he who saved Turkey in the war and who revived a new the Turkish nation after the war. The sincere tears shed after him by all classes of people is nothing other than an appropriate manifestation to this great hero and modern Turkey's Ata."

The message of RB is simple: peace, tolerance and dialogue are good for business and there are major themes of peace to be promoted from Turkey:
- 7 peaceful colours of the rainbow which appeared in the skies above Mount Ararat (Mount Agri) in present day Eastern Turkey, along with the dove and olive branch - all representing universal symbols of peace
- the Mevlevi Whirling Dervish movement founded in Konya giving Turkey a tailor-made peace slogan for her tourism industry: Come, come who ever you are, however you are, just come.
- Ataturk founded the secular democratic Republic of Turkey 1923 consisting of 7 internal regions and touched by 7 bordering countries: Greece, Bulgaria, Armenia, Georgia, Iran, Iraq and Syria. He left behind a standard bearer quote applicable for all peace minded nations throughout the world:
Yurtta Bagis, Dunyada Bagis - Peace at Home, Peace in the World

Comparison can be made between RB and projects such as the Eiffel Tower, London Eye and particularly works by Christo and his wife Jeann Claude. The Eiffel Tower experienced considerable resistance before becoming a much loved and internationally recognised icon. The London Eye also encountered resistance before inspiring a British Airways corporate logo, has since been an advertising tool for mobile phone company O2 and is today a popular London landmark. Christo and Jeann Claude spend years planning, organising and persuading authorities before implementing their projects. Initial resistance was followed by international acclaim, cultural and financial success e.g. the German Parliament Building, the Miami islands and the Pont Neuf in Paris.

NPP took a painting station to several public locations in Turkey and generally the public appeared very supportive of the Rainbow Bridge project. Turkish channel TV8 conducted a street survey which concluded YES.

Somewhere along the line the authorities have a problem with the RB project. The problem may be financial and contractual issue. It may just be fear of the untried and untested. The Turkish business community, although very supportive in private, did little to support the project in real terms. This is understandable since one does not wish to compromising relationship with the same government which issues business contract tenders. RB may one day create more business and positive PR for Turkey than any of them apparently understand. RB has become its own little private drop in the ocean to help change the world for the better; a stance against the conservative status quo which so often declares it cares about peace in the world but in practise does little to show it.

Time will tell.

Love Bridge in Balikesir painted in rainbow colours: